Tax Notes: Women in Tax: Pioneering and Progress But Still a Long Way to Go

By William Hoke

The dearth of women occupying top slots in tax policymaking positions is mirrored by the percentage of women who get paid to influence the policymakers. In a 2013 article in The Atlantic, a Washington lobbyist said that while there had been recent increases in the number of women-owned lobbying firms and women in leadership roles in that field, the trend had not occurred in the tax sector, where she said men still noticeably outnumber women. “It’s not unique for me to show up to a room full of 15 people, and I’m the only one wearing a dress,” said Michaela Sims at the time. Now president of Sims Strategies in Washington, Sims told Tax Notes that while there still aren’t many women at the meetings she attends, the situation is starting to change. “It does feel like more and more women are populating the tax space, and I think that’s awesome,” she said.

Source: Tax Notes International, July 30, 2018, pp. 446-449. Published by Tax Analysts.

Reuters: How parents of adopted children foiled a U.S. Republican tax proposal

By Katanga Johnson and Makini Brice

Despite a relative lack of clout, parents of adopted children and adoption advocates beat back a minor change in the tax code that would have removed a tax credit to help cover the costs of adoption.

“Everyone in corporate America had an army ready and in place to push for simplifying the tax code,” said Michaela Sims Stewart, president of the lobbying firm Sims Strategies.

In contrast, parents of adopted children “naturally came together” to form a “small but mighty group,” said Stewart.

Stewart also happens to be a spokeswoman for Adoption Tax Credit Working Group, which brought together a host of organizations, some with strong Republican and conservative ties, to pressure the House leadership to drop the change.

The House proposal was dropped Nov. 2 and the Senate didn’t even bother to make it part of its version of the tax bill.

Source: Reuters

CNN: Adoption tax credit: What the GOP tax bill means to parents and kids

When talk of repealing the credit started percolating, a coalition of activists geared up to respond. They launched a movement — “Save the Adoption Tax Credit” — hoping to stamp out any further discussions.

One of the people involved in this working group is Michaela Sims, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist and former senate staffer. She’s known her way around Capitol Hill for 20 years and isn’t easily rattled.

“Nothing fazes me anymore, and I’ve been specifically preparing for this [proposed cut] for over a year,” said Sims, 47. “But when I saw it in black and white, it took my breath way.”

Source: CNN

Vox: The Republican tax plan raises taxes on families who adopt children

By Jen Kirby

“We must continue to remove barriers to adoption whenever we can,” President Donald Trump wrote in a proclamation to declare November National Adoption Month, “so that the love and care of prospective adoptive parents can be directed to children waiting for their permanent homes.”

That sentiment, apparently, did not translate into the House GOP’s tax overhaul bill. The proposal, unveiled Thursday, eliminates the adoption tax credit, which exists to help reduce financial barriers to adoption. The credit essentially helps subsidize costs — sometimes in the tens of thousands for private or international adoptions — for agency and attorney fees, travel, and post-adoption services, such as retrofitting a home for a child with special needs.

But adoption advocates had been bracing for the end of this credit. In December, House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX), one of the architects of the tax overhaul bill who is also a father to adopted kids, spoke at the Heritage Foundation about tax reform, and he mentioned the adoption tax credit as an example of a provision that could be eliminated. Michaela Sims, a lobbyist and spokesperson for the Save the Adoption Tax Credit working group, said these organizations had feared this since Brady’s speech. But, she told me, “when I saw that in black and white today, it positively took my breath away.”

“It’s stunning to me that this package that is supposed to be pro-family eliminates the adoption tax credit, which is definitely not pro-family,” Sims added. “At the minimum, it’s a tax increase for families who choose to adopt. But at maximum, it could have a chilling effect on adoption.”

Rep. Brady told the Washington Post that the adoption tax credit in its current form wasn’t working because families didn’t earn enough to qualify, or didn’t itemize, and that the new plan would give “families more in their paychecks.” The GOP tax overhaul does outline a modest increase to the child tax credit, which would benefit adoptive parents — but only after the fact. Sims said that increase was great but not enough. “We’re talking about kids not having a home and not having a permanent family,” she said. “Last time I checked, that was very pro-family.”

Source: Vox

Creighton Lawyer Magazine: GOAL Adds a Mentorship Program

Creighton University students participating in the JD/MS in Government Organization and Leadership (GOAL) joint-degree program spend the fall semester of their last year prior to graduation living and working in Washington, D.C.

The centerpiece of the program is a practicum with a federal agency, congressional committee or office of a member of Congress. And starting this fall, a mentorship program has been added. It pairs current students with School of Law alumni living and working in the D.C. area.

Michaela Sims, JD’96, founder of the consulting firm Sims Strategies in Washington, D.C., is the coordinator of the D.C. portion of the GOAL program. She and Michael Kelly, interim dean and program director of GOAL, have been aiming to have a mentorship program in place for several years.

“GOAL is a great program, and we assess and try to improve upon it each year,” Sims says. “A driving force behind the mentorship program is to have more mentors in place to help the students throughout their semester, both with the quality of their externship experience and with their networking for potential post-graduation employment.”

Source: Creighton Lawyer Magazine

POLITICO Influence: Chamber Hill Co-Founder Launches New Firm

Chamber Hill co-founder departs to launch new firm

With David Beavers and Aubree Eliza Weaver

CHAMBER HILL CO-FOUNDER LAUNCHES NEW FIRM: Michaela Sims, a co-founder of Chamber Hill Strategies, has left to launch her own firm, Sims Strategies. Sims decided to strike out on her own after a conflict of interest between two clients at Chamber Hill that couldn’t be resolved, she said in an interview. “It just made sense to split off,” she said. Sims is also a veteran of the Bockorny Group and before that worked for former Sens. Ben Nelson and Bob Kerrey, both Nebraska Democrats. Ted Prettyman is also leaving Chamber Hill to join the firm as a director.

— Sims is bringing five Chamber Hill clients with her, most of them in the health care sector: the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, AMAG Pharmaceuticals, the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care, WellCare and GlaxoSmithKline. The firm plans to focus on health and tax clients at the outset. (She’s lobbying for the American Academy of Adoption Attorney on preserving the adoption tax credit, among other issues.) “I would say our sweet spot is issues that will go through the [Senate] Finance Committee” and the House Ways and Means Committee, Sims said. She’s undaunted by the prospect of launching a Democratic firm — Prettyman previously worked for Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) — in Trump’s Washington. “The party that’s not in power is always going to be relevant — particularly in the Senate,” Sims said. “I would be saying the same if it was a Democrat in the White House and a Democratic-controlled Congress.”

Source: POLITICO Influence

POLITICO Playbook: Transitions

TRANSITIONS —  Michaela Sims is launching a new lobbying firm, Sims Strategies, and is registering for five mostly health and tax-related clients. She most recently was co-founder and partner at Chamber Hill Strategies and has also worked as counsel and LD for former Sens. Bob Kerrey and Ben Nelson. Her firm has also hired Ted Prettyman as a director.

Source: POLITICO Playbook

Health and Tax Policy Firm Sims Strategies Launches; Announces the Addition of Ted Prettyman as Director

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Michaela Sims, msims@simsstrategies.com 202-503-8832

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sims Strategies, a boutique government relations firm led by Michaela Sims, President, is pleased to announce its launch with the registration of five clients: AMAG Pharmaceuticals, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, GlaxoSmithKline, the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care, and WellCare.

Sims Strategies specializes in health and tax policy. Serving as President is Michaela Sims, a 20-year veteran in the government affairs arena, including ten years as counsel and legislative director in the U.S. Senate and ten years as a consultant to multiple organizational interests. Named one of The Hill’s Top Lobbyists in 2016, Sims is known for her keen insight and ability to create successful strategies that achieve desired results.

In addition, Sims Strategies is pleased to announce that Ted Prettyman has joined the firm as Director. Prettyman comes to the firm with experience both on Capitol Hill and in the lobbying world. Prettyman served on the staff of Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and supported his work on the Senate Finance Committee and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, on which Senator Carper served as Chairman. In the lobbying world, Prettyman has worked to provide research and analysis on political and policy issues to clients.

Sims said, “I am really excited to be working with such esteemed clients, especially at a time when the policy agenda in Washington is so robust, and I’m equally thrilled to have Ted on my team. Ted and I are problem solvers by nature who appreciate the importance of clear communication – both with clients and in advocating for their interests – and are eager to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”

Sims continues to lead Creighton University School of Law’s Government Organization and Leadership (GOAL) Program in Washington, DC. Learn more about Michaela, Ted and Sims Strategies at www.SimsStrategies.com.